by Jack Winnick | August 10, 2019 12:00 AM
Just thirty years after a debilitating war with its neighbor, Iraq, Iran has become the most bellicose, intolerant society on earth. With a population of eighty million in an area more than four times the size of Germany, this nation has sizable resources of fuel, raw materials and fresh water — more, certainly than pre-World War II Germany.
And unfortunately, the Iranian regime’s routine anti-Semitic diatribes invite further comparisons to the same time and place.
When Iran threatens to wipe Israel off the map, consider the menace of nuclear weapons. Pakistan, India, Russia, and China all possess known inventories along with the missiles to deliver them. How difficult could it be for Iran to reach the same competence?
Columnist Kristen Soltis Anderson on the expanded Washington Examiner magazine
Nuclear weapon technology is already available to any power with the necessary resources, material and financial. Iran, thanks to its huge reserves of petroleum and other minerals, has both. It also has the trained population to carry out the construction and assembly of fission bombs, both uranium and plutonium fueled.
The question then is whether Iran can lay hold of enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium to build an arsenal sufficient for a sustained attack on a nearby country — say Israel.
For a few years, Iran was supposedly held to the limits imposed by the United States and other friendly countries. These limits of fuel production and enrichment were to be monitored and enforced by IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency. We now know that even those limits have been exceeded. The road to uranium enrichment of ninety-percent fissile material, the amount necessary for weaponry, is well within reach. Iran has the needed technology, most likely centrifugation, to carry this out.
Plutonium production is also within their means. Iran are known to have the technology to build and operate the heavy water-moderated reactors needed to produce weapons-grade plutonium from natural uranium. And they have the technology necessary for its recovery and refinement. All this could be carried out in hidden plants inside Iran’s vast mountain ranges.
As for the delivery of such weapons, it is clear that Iran has, or is close to having, the technology and means to assemble at least intermediate-range ballistic missiles. These are easily able to reach Israel, as well a number of of our other allies.
What then are our alternatives? Clearly, the current situation is untenable. Economic pressure must be not only maintained, but increased. Beyond that, other political or military threats or actions may be necessary.
This threat from Iran is real; it has been ever since they illegally expelled, without opposition, our embassy personnel in 1979.
The situation has only gotten worse since then and is now critical.
Jack Winnick is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech. He has more than forty years industrial and governmental experience in petroleum, nuclear and aerospace technology.